Opioid addiction has become an epidemic across the United States. In 2015, there were 20.5 million Americans ages 12 and up that had a substance abuse disorder. As many as 2 million had a prescription pain reliever addiction and 591,000 had a substance use disorder involving heroin.
These substance abuse issues are taking the lives of young Americans every single day. Roughly four in five new heroin users began misusing opioid painkillers. Hopefully, after numerous scientific studies and research projects, doctors who prescribe medical marijuana might be able to help these individuals struggling with opioid addiction.
“There is no doubt marijuana is much safer than opiates,” said Jane Ballantyene, a pain specialist at the University of Washington and president of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing. “So we don’t discourage its use.”
According to The Cannabist, many medical practitioners believe that legal medical marijuana could result in fewer people using and misusing opioids, which are highly addictive.
A 2016 study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that states with legal medical marijuana doctors had 25% fewer opioid overdose deaths than states that do not offer any medical marijuana.
“Medical cannabis has great potential as an opioid replacement drug and we want to move people away from being prescribed highly addictive opiates,” said New Mexico State House Minority Leader Rep. Nate Gentry.
Rolling Stone reports that New Mexico has some of the highest rates of drug overdoses in the United States. Between 2010 and 2014, in Rio Arriba County, at least 78 people died from overdoses for every 100,000 people across the nation.
Since New Mexico legalized medical marijuana, more and more medical advancements have been made, but the opioid problem remains. Now, officials and medical professions hope that medical marijuana will provide safe alternatives to opioid users.
“I really think medical marijuana is the drug of the future,” said Howard Shapiro, one of the medical marijuana doctors who began prescribing the drug last year. “We’re going to find out that it does a lot of things we already think it can do but don’t have scientific studies to prove it.”
If you want to learn more about the potential benefits of medical marijuana or speak to experienced medical marijuana doctors, contact Peace Medical today.